The flagship Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) series "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies" has been well-received since its launch. The programme ambassador, emerging film director and singer-songwriter Juno Mak, recently recommended the programme to younger audiences and shared his view that outstanding movies are timeless, transcend the generations and often give rise to creative inspiration. The August to October programme of "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies" will feature six classic Mandarin and Cantonese melodramas portraying social issues and life's absurdities.
To complement the forthcoming HKFA retrospective "The Writer/Director in Focus II: Griffin Yueh Feng", "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies" will show director Yueh's "Blood Will Tell" (1949), starring screen goddess Bai Guang. The other five films to be shown are director Wang Weiyi's "Dawn Must Come" (1950), Li Pingqian's "Awful Truth" (1950), Lee Sun-fung's "Blood-stained Azaleas" (1951), Zhu Shilin and Bai Chen's "Should They Marry?" (1951) and Zhu's "Festival Moon" (1953).
The six films will be shown on August 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17 respectively at the HKFA and there will be post-screening talks, to be conducted in Cantonese, with Lau Yam, Jack Ng, May Ng, Eric Tsang, Shu Kei, David Chan and Timmy Chen. These six films will also be shown from August to October at Broadway Cinematheque (BC). "Awful Truth" and "Festival Moon" will also be screened on September 28 and November 9 respectively at Cine-Art House.
In "Blood Will Tell", director Griffin Yueh Feng creates for the Chinese audience an intense tale of love and hate reminiscent of American film noir. Bai Guang plays a one-time prostitute who marries Ma the flying bandit and is so vicious that she rats on her husband and even blackmails the detective who raises her daughter. Bai's portrayal of a thoroughly bad woman, a rarity in Chinese cinema, has become a persona that lives forever.
Director Wang Weiyi's "Dawn Must Come" was the debut title of the Nanguo Film Company and a quality production by a band of southbound filmmakers who pledged to take Cantonese cinema up a notch. The film features a young couple who are forced to leave Guangzhou due to corruption between landlords and officials, but only run into more hardship. The well-researched realist drama depicts the pathetic life of grass-roots farmers. With scenes shot on location, it also shows Guangdong in vivid detail, from farmers and rural landscapes to coolies at the pier and traditional lion dancing.
Director Li Pingqian's "Awful Truth", a classic work of the then-new Great Wall studio, is a biting satire on life in the capitalistic Shanghai under the rule of the Kuomintang. With the currency taking a nosedive, the panic-stricken people scramble to advance their interests, often by foul means. The story focuses on an upper-class courtesan, an unscrupulous businessman, his underling who is eager to climb the corporate ladder, a money-grubbing toy boy and more, all trying to get the better of each other by cheat or by crook. The drama unravels in a simple setting and has become a classic that transcends time with its razor-sharp delineation of human weaknesses.
Cantonese film auteur Lee Sun-fung's classic "Blood-stained Azaleas" made use of film noir aesthetics to mirror the scheming between tycoons, as well as Pak Yin's unusual appearance as the femme fatale, in creating a rare experiment in Cantonese cinema. Director Lee, together with top cinematographer Ho Look-ying, broke the industry mould and made the film an avant-garde work that imbues populist melodrama with expressionist elements, delving into the human psyche in ways hardly ever seen before.
The comedy "Should They Marry?" by directors Zhu Shilin and Bai Chen features a wedding musician, Little Trumpet (Han Fei), who is raring to marry his childhood sweetheart, played by Li Lihua, but a series of setbacks prevent them from getting their way. The film is full of director Zhu's comedic and realist touches, especially in the dynamic and melodic camerawork of a hilarious teahouse scene which continues to amaze to this day. With young couples today still struggling to get a roof over their heads and social formalities still reigning, this classic remains relevant after all these years.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for family, yet in a world where money talks loudest, social etiquette makes life harder for the underprivileged. "Festival Moon", another great work by Zhu, portrays life's absurdities in the director's gentle and empathetic manner, calling for reflection on the ritual of gift-giving. Staged without dramatic twists, the tragicomic social drama tells in dainty strokes the hardships faced by the working class, making the film one of Hong Kong cinema's best.
"Blood Will Tell", "Awful Truth" and "Should They Marry?" are in Mandarin while all other screenings are in Cantonese. All films have Chinese and English subtitles.
Tickets for screenings at the HKFA are available at URBTIX. Tickets for screenings at BC are available at BC and via its website. Tickets for screenings at Cine-Art House are available at Cine-Art House's box office from August 14.
Tickets for the HKFA's screenings are priced at $40, with half-price concessionary tickets for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities (and one accompanying minder), full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Credit card telephone bookings can be made on 2111 5999 or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk . Tickets for BC's screenings are priced at $60; tickets priced at $44 are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, full-time students and children aged 11 or below. There is a 20 per cent discount for BC VIP members. Phone ticketing can be made on 2388 3188 or on the Internet at www.cinema.com.hk . Tickets for Cine-Art House's screenings are priced at $50. Phone ticketing can be made on 2317 6666 or on the Internet at www.cityline.com .
For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900. Detailed programme information can be found in leaflets distributed at all performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, at BC or on the webpage at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011ms100/2011ms100_index.html .
Ends/Monday, July 28, 2014
Issued at HKT 13:02
A film still of "Blood Will Tell" (1949).
A film still of "Dawn Must Come" (1950).
A film still of "Awful Truth" (1950).
A film still of "Blood-stained Azaleas" (1951).
A film still of "Should They Marry?" (1951).
A film still of "Festival Moon" (1953).